Friday Find: Brains On!

brainson“Wait! Pause it!”

We were listening to an episode of Brains On!, and my six year old could barely hold in her comments and questions.  I let her choose among the recent episodes, and she chose Is There Life on Other Planets? which opened with an excerpt from a science fiction story about aliens written by a kid, not too much older than my daughter.

“So this is a real story written by a real kid?” was her first question.  Then we had to go to the Brains On! web site to see the young author’s alien drawings.

Astrocat_001That was only the beginning  of the speculation and discussion that the episode sparked in her.  It wasn’t just the day we listened to it, either.  The ideas stuck with her enough to bring it up again and again.  We explored more about space in Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, which has a great spread with speculative aliens that my daughter loved.

We will definitely be listening to more of Brains On! And catching up on past episodes.  I love that it features kids asking real kid questions, and I am excited to explore more science with my daughter.

Since I am always thinking about books, I already have a few books in mind for some of the other episodes:

  • For Water, Water Everywhere we will check out Did a Dinosaur Drink this Water by Robert Wells and Let’s Drink Some Water by Ruth Walton.
  • The Soil–Can You Dig It episode fits well with A Handful of Dirt by Raymond Bial.
  • In How Do You Catch a Cold? there is talk of sneezes; Explore more in Sneeze! by Alexandra Siy.
  • If you listen to Is There Life on Other Planets? with kids a bit older than my six year old, you can direct them to The Alien Hunter’s Handbook by Mark Brake for more about what life is and how to find it.

Happy listening, reading, and exploring!

Interested in past Friday Finds posts? Click here

Friday Find: Pratfalls of Parenting

“We make cool stuff. We make people too. How has that affected you?  Along the way we try to stay creative types at the end of the day.” –The Pratfalls of Parenting theme song

pop-itunesI recently discovered the Pratfalls of Parenting podcast about life as a parent in the arts, and I’ve become a bit obsessed with the show.  I am far from being a working artist myself–that isn’t even on my map really–but that doesn’t matter.  The sense of camaraderie in the casual conversations between the artists in the podcast extends to the listener, and turns people whose names I see on advertisements for gallery shows or theater performances into real people whose struggles are not far off from mine.

All the interviews that I’ve listened to so far seem to circle back to the idea that you have to be you to be a good parent.  You might be able to put parts of you in the background at times, like when your kids are quite young, but you have to keep making things or whatever it is you are into.  For me that means writing and making zines.  For my husband, it means making music.  We’ve made these things priorities in our house, and it’s nice to know that there are other families out there who are making the same kinds of priorities we are.

But I don’t think you have to be some sort of artist to know the tension between keeping your pre-parent self alive and being a good parent, and I don’t think you have to be an artist to appreciate the Pratfalls of Parenting podcast.  For one thing, it’s a fascinating angle on the Twin Cities arts scene.  I’ve discovered so many artists and arts organizations in the few weeks I’ve been listening.  :)

Here are some of the highlights I’ve found so far:

  • Seniz Lennes (improvisor/actor/photographer) talks about parenting as part of her creative practice and the way that her work as an improvisor informs her parenting.  She blogs about this at Yes And Parenting.
  • Carolyn Swiszcz (painter/video maker) references children’s books as a great inspiration, and she mentions several illustrators in particular that she likes.  While I’m on the subject of books, I’ll also point out that Susannah Schouweiler mentions that having free reign of the library as a kid influenced her decision to become a writer and William Alexander (children’s book author) talks about writing, the book industry, and all sorts of other things kidlitgeeks like me love hearing about.
  • Jena Young  (comic/theater producer) brings up the topic of humor in that what is funny to kids is often not the same as what is funny to adults.  I wonder what she and host Levi Weinhagen (of all-ages theater company Comedy Suitcase) would think of my assessment of Kid Humor in picture books. ;)

I highly recommend the podcast to parents of all sorts, but especially to those who make stuff and make that a priority.

Friday Find: Glam Doll Donuts


I have fond memories of bakeries and donut shops from my childhood, and I tried to share my donut-related memories with my family while we waited in line at Glam Doll Donuts this week.  But my 5 year-old was more interested in the sweets in the display case than in my old stories of being her age and hanging out in the back room of the bakery where my mom worked at the time.  Once our donuts had been consumed, she just wanted to explore the shop’s unique decor.  The photo booth was a great source of curiosity, and the stage-like steps leading to the back door were screaming “put on a show” to anyone under age 6 or so.

You don’t have to be a kid to let Glam Doll capture your imagination.  It’s retro and stylish, and the idea that you can drink coffee and eat sweets into the wee hours is a good one.  It’s well worth checking out.  I know I’ll be back.  There is a donut with bacon on top that I have yet to try… :)

Friday Finds – Gift Edition: For Bookworms, Writers, and Language Geeks

What do you get a bookworm besides books?  I have a few ideas…

  • This one is for my fellow librarians (and anyone who else reads YA) because #YAsaves. Stand up for the power of teen fiction with this print from Jennifer Alexis Design.

  • Or perhaps you just want to give a book as a gift, but you want to make it special.  Do not miss 150 Ways to Gift a Book from the fabulous book blogger Mother Reader.  She has some great ideas for kids of all ages.
  • I have all sorts of recommendations in my bookshop.  Buy one of my favorite books and support this site while you do it! :)

Friday Finds: Green Gifts, Fashion, and M83

What to do with your Twin Cities weekend:

In the (library) news:

And now for music:

“There are some shows that are so good that they can’t possibly be bound by the typical constraints of time and place, where each person who witnesses it carries a part of the performance with them for quite some time to come. Wednesday night’s sold-out show by M83 at First Avenue was precisely one of those types of transcendent gigs, as the dynamic electro-pop quartet transformed the Mainroom into a roiling French discothèque during their euphoric 80-minute set.”

I’ll have to catch them next time.  Until then, here’s a selection from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming:


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Friday Finds: Loose Ends, Mustaches, & Creativity

Local Love:

Thoughts on Creativity:
“The creative process, and the creative life, is mostly full of moments between the idea and the being done, the spark and the blazing fire, the shimmering magic and the finished piece. We’re always living in the gap between our vision of what could be and what might be, and what is.”
  • This video looks at what deadlines can do to creativity.  You can’t rush art.
And it’s all about me:
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Friday Finds: Picture Book Month, Great Local Music & More


  • Tickets for the MN Music 4 Kids CD Release Party are now on sale!  Details about the show are here.  Proceeds benefit Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.  Good cause. Good music.
In other news:
  • It’s Picture Book Month!  All month long, book bloggers will be talking about why picture books matter, myself included.  Check out my Picture Book Preschool posts featuring civil engineering, maps, and science.  Watch for more like this next week.
  • Perhaps most importantly, an excerpt of John Green’s upcoming novel The Fault in Our Stars is now available on  This is worth checking out.  Preorder the book while you’re at it.  Trust me.
For more interesting stuff, find me on Facebook, and Twitter.

Friday Finds: New M83, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jose Saramago, and more

Now Available:

  • M83 has a new album out: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.  Popstache says: “If M83 (aka Anthony Gonzalez) hadn’t deliberately put together his forthcoming double album, slowly fusing styles and influences from his past efforts while carefully experimenting in newfound territory, it might have perfectly scored Spike Jonze’s fantasy film, Where The Wild Things Are.”
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, author of Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, has a new book out as of this week: The Marriage Plot.  I am number 432 on the library waiting list.  I  will blog about it someday.
  • Jose Saramago’s distinctive style doesn’t suit everyone, but his newest novel certainly has an interesting setting.  Cain re-imagines the Bible story of Cain and Abel.
  • I blogged about Girls Don’t Fly a few weeks ago in a Secular Thursday post.  It is available as of this week for your reading pleasure.
Local Love:
In the News:
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Friday Finds: Good books, free family fun, and great local music

Book Finds:

Family Finds:
Music Find:
  • Don’t miss the last block party of the year this weekend at Nick & Eddie.  The 274 Music Fest has a great lineup including Me & My Arrow, Gospel Gossip, and more.  Here’s a video of Gospel Gossip on the Current’s Local Show just to get you excited:

Friday Finds: Mayda, Storyland, & more

Music Finds:

  • World premiere of Mayda’s new music video.  Watch it here:
Library Finds:
Family Finds:
  • We went to a sneak peek of a new exhibit at the Minnesota Children’s Museum tonight. I’ll be blogging about it sometime in the next few days, but if you can check out Storyland this weekend, you’ll be glad you did!
  • Tomorrow (Saturday, September 10) is the Target Book Festival in Bloomington.  See Koo Koo Kanga Roo and meet lots of children’s book authors and illustrators.
See more of my blog finds for the week in my Google Reader Shared Items.  Have a good weekend, everyone!